Frank Clegg, President, Microsoft Canada

Last year Microsoft was forced to move its partner conference from Toronto to New Orleans because of the concern over SARS. This meant that a lot of sleepless nights and hard work for many Microsoft Canada employees was all for nothing.

Microsoft Canada was caught between “”a rock and a hard

place,”” as its outgoing president Frank Clegg put it.

“”It was discouraging,”” he said.

But Clegg did not give up on the conference. With help from Lora Gernon, director of partner sales and Andrew Coulson, director of enterprise partners, it was staged early this year.

“”I was disappointed initially, but it worked out well and we got a bigger conference with the inclusion of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) conference for the first time ever. I think Toronto made out well,”” Clegg said.

One of the major announcements from the conference was that spending on partner commitment and investment would continue to rise while all other areas at Microsoft either remained flat or would drop.

Committment increased

The channel commitment increased to US$1.7 billion, up from US$1.5 billion last year.

“”Customer solutions are getting more sophisticated and they demand more. It’s complicated and no one company can do this. We need to build that capacity and build trust with partners and that means you have to provide things to them. We invested in them so they can have early access to software and training.””

Meanwhile it looked like Linux was becoming more than just a nuisance for Microsoft Canada. Clegg along with his team put together a plan to get what they saw as the facts out about the cost of implementing and supporting Linux over Windows.

With that, Microsoft created the “”Get the Facts”” program. “”Customers now understand what the Linux implementation and ongoing support costs are and it does not look as rosy as before,”” he said.

Canada was one of two leading countries pushing this program, Clegg said. Beyond providing independent studies from various research firms, the subsidiary gave ample Canadian content with customer case studies and a cross country tour.

“”This was a planned initiative to get the facts out and certainly we wanted to do that because the customers did not have all the facts they need. We spent money to make people understand this,”” Clegg said.

Family finally first

The work on the conference and Linux were certainly challenging, but one of the most difficult decisions he had to make this year was to put his family ahead of his career.

After working for 25 years in the industry, five of which were spent away from home in the U.S. handling the central region for Microsoft, Clegg decided to leave it all behind to take his family on a seven-month journey around the world.

“”It is the right decision to make at this stage of my life.””

Clegg has two teenage daughters, one starting university and the other high school. He remembers his relationship with his parents changing after leaving home for the University of Waterloo.

“”I want to connect with them,”” he said of his children. And I never met anyone who said, ‘I wish I spent more time at work.'””

Enter Hemler

After making this career-altering decision, Clegg’s next step was to recommend to Microsoft a successor. He understands that a Canadian should be at the helm of Microsoft Canada, but decided to bring in David Hemler, an American, from the central region.

Clegg said he debated this move for several months.

“”No one was ready in Canada and I had lot of time to think and evaluate it, but it was too early for someone from my team to take over,”” he said.

“”Someday they can run with this job, but I did not want to burn them out.””

Therefore the decision came down to suggesting someone who understands Microsoft, but not necessarily the Canadian market.

“”Right now it was more important to bring someone in from the U.S. who understands Microsoft. He is from the central region and more or less it is the same as Canada,”” he said.

Thus ends another chapter in Clegg’s career at Microsoft. But Clegg said he will be back in another capacity. He has done this before. He left the Microsoft Canada president position back in 1995 to run the central region only to return.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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